The Denome’s Advocate: A spark of hope – and uncertainty – in the Senate

By Thomas Denome

When historians write books about Trump’s presidency and America during the tenure of number 45, various themes of Trump’s time in office will be mentioned throughout. Distrust. Fear. Abnormality. And most importantly, division.

Bipartisanship is reaching an all-time low, despite how often senators love to throw around claims of how much they work with the other side, or how open they are to negotiations. Americans are getting into brawls with each other, like the recent violence in Charlottesville, and lives have been lost. Factions are even forming inside of parties, to the point where we have what amounts to two separate factions inside of the two major parties.

Thus, when President Trump and Senate Democrats agreed to work together this week on a deal to eliminate future congressional fights over increasing America’s borrowing limit, eyebrows, along the with the debt ceiling, raised.
I was shocked, for one thing. Trump is one to hold grudges, and Senate Democrats, most notably Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have been far from friendly to the president. Not to mention, a week ago Trump was calling for a government shutdown unless he got funding for the border wall, and yet now he’s arguing against that very tactic.

Nonetheless, Trump’s actions here are at least slightly reassuring, in that he’s not negotiating with threats on Twitter but rather with actual cordial talks with the other side. However, we need to ask ourselves an important question: where does the Senate go from here?

Effectively, Trump is no longer a modern Republican. Ever since the Gingrich Revolution, where a wave election put a new generation of Republicans in Congress, those on the right have been increasingly unwilling to compromise, even with themselves. Take Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when he said in 2010 that the ultimate goal of Republicans was “to make President Obama a one-term president” in an interview with National Journal.

The logical result of this is the divisions in America today. Senate Republicans and Democrats are allergic to working together. Trump and his partisan ambiguity are almost a blessing for compromise, considering the pressure he puts on Republicans to either appease him or watch him walk to the left.

The problem still rests mainly in Trump’s agenda, however. A Republican party that realizes the necessity of Trump’s electorate will be one that is increasingly likely to  bow to his every demand. Should Trump immediately go back to dealing with Republicans, simply because they cave to his racist base, the country will head right back off of the path toward steadiness that Democrats and Trump have recently started America on.

Democrats, while having won here, are still playing with a losing hand. They must hope for a 2018 midterm election where they sweep through the House, or for the Republican caucus to realize how dangerous Trump really is.

Unfortunately, Republicans have toppled over for Trump before and they will almost certainly do so again. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has voted with Trump literally 100 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Ryan has almost become a running joke to left-leaning politicos, who love to point out how often he criticizes the president, only to vote with him on everything.

On the bright side for Democrats, Ryan only has a 5 percent lead in the 2018 election over a credible and popular challenger. As much as Republicans have given into the weight Trump has on the party, they still have only been marginally successful, if you can even call it that, in both special elections and projections for the midterms next year, such as when Democrats nearly won seats in ruby-red districts in Montana and Georgia.
From here on out, Democrats must present themselves as the party of not just diversity, but also of compromise and improvement. As the president and the actions get more erratic, Americans would love to see at least one major party remain stable in this turbulent time.

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome